Rheingold Beer

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Antique Rheingold beer tray
Miss Rheingold 1949

Rheingold Beer, introduced in 1883, is a New York beer that held 35 percent of the state's beer market from 1950 to 1960.[citation needed] The company was sold by the founding German American Liebmann family in 1963. According to the New York Times, "Rheingold Beer was once a top New York brew guzzled regularly by a loyal cadre of workingmen who would just as soon have eaten nails as drink another beer maker's suds."[1] Its VP-Technical Joseph Owades claims credit for Rheingold's developing the first light beer.[citation needed]

Rheingold shut down operations in 1976, when they were unable to compete with the large national breweries. Corporate consolidation and the rise of national breweries led to the demise of dozens of regional breweries. The Orange, New Jersey brewery was the last facility to close.[citation needed]

The label was revived in 1998 by Terry Liebmann and partner Mike Mitaro.[citation needed] The beer's evocative name is an allusion to Germany's great river Rhein as well as Richard Wagner's opera Das Rheingold.[citation needed]

Miss Rheingold Girls 1940–1965

At the center of its media campaign was the "Miss Rheingold" pageant. Beer drinkers voted each year on the young lady who would be featured as Miss Rheingold in advertisements. In the 1940s and 1950s in New York, "the selection of Miss Rheingold was as highly anticipated as the race for the White House."[2] The first Miss Rheingold was Spanish-born Jinx Falkenburg.[3] When Nat King Cole became the first major black entertainer to host a television show, advertisers stayed away—but not Rheingold; Rheingold was the New York regional sponsor for Cole's show.[4] As early as 1965, Rheingold aired television ads featuring African American, Puerto Rican and Asian actors, to appeal to its racially diverse customer base.[5] The company's headquarters was in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Rheingold was the official beer of the New York Mets, and its advertisements featured John Wayne, Jackie Robinson, Sarah Vaughan and the Marx Brothers.[6] They also sponsored The Jackie Robinson Show which aired on 660 WRCA radio in New York City on Sunday evenings between 6:30 and 7 PM during the late 1950s and early 1960s.[7]


The company shut down four years after the construction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was completed. During the cleanup of the WTC site following the collapse of the towers on September 11, 2001, numerous Rheingold beer cans were found in the rubble, having been hidden in the beams of the building decades earlier by construction workers who had drunk the beers on the job.[8]

According to an October 18, 1999 New York Observer article, Mike Mitaro's Rheingold Brewing Company LLC bought the brand in 1998. Walter Liebmann, a director of the new company, is a relative of Rheingold's founding family. When Rheingold re-launched, they revived the Miss Rheingold pageant. The new Miss Rheingold contestants no longer wore ball gowns and white gloves--"They had tattoos. They were pierced. They were badasses." In 2003, The Village Voice noted Rheingold for "the best marketing campaign co-opting hipster drinking habits."[9] In 2004, Rheingold stirred controversy in New York City with a series of ads which mock New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on smoking in bars and enforcement of city laws which prohibit dancing in bars which do not have a "cabaret license." Bloomberg responded by drinking Coors in public.[10][11]

In 2005, Drinks Americas of Wilton Ct., whose brands include Trump Vodka and Dr. Dre Cognac, purchased Rheingold Brewing.[12] Drinks Americas has reformulated the Rheingold product for follow through distribution throughout the US. The date of the release is currently unknown. A reformulated Rheingold beer was introduced to the New York Metropolitan market, as well as Cincinnati, Ohio and Georgia, in August 2010.

In popular culture

In advertising

Les Paul recorded a very popular radio commercial for Rheingold in 1951.[13] Humorist and radio personality Jean Shepherd was the radio spokesman for Rheingold's radio ads on New York Mets broadcasts in the 1970s.

In film

In the 1956 Requiem of a Heavyweight. Anthony Quinn is in the bar and the woman who has been looking for him to be a counselor at a camp wants to have a beer and the bartender brings them two bottles of Rheingold.

In the 1959 film "It Happened to Jane" newspaper reporter Matilda Runyon drinks Rheingold at home and warns her husband Clarence to stay away from her beer supply.

In the first episode of "Ro.Go.Pa.G." (1963) the man on the flight speaks about Rheingold girls to the hostess, and he asks her only for a Rheingold Beer.

In the film The Godfather (1972), a Rheingold delivery truck can be seen in the background while Sonny beats up his brother-in-law Carlo. Rheingold built the truck for the movie.

In the film Cops and Robbers (1973), the lead character Joe has a pool-side television encased in a protective Rheinghold TV wrapper.

In the movie Sophie's Choice (1982), Nathan Landau throws a beer to Stingo.

In the film Silver Bullet (1985), Arnie Westrum is first seen singing a drunken rendition of the Rheingold beer song.

In the movie Just Looking (1999), which takes place in 1955, Rheingold beer and advertisements are shown throughout.

In the movie The Sinatra Club (2010), a young John Gotti explains to his crew the merits of Rheingold Beer and compares it to his philosophy of life.[citation needed]

In music

In the introduction to the Eartha Kitt song "I Wanna Be Evil", she sings, "I was made Miss Rheingold though I never touch beer."[14]

In opera

In the summer 2011 edition of San Francisco Opera's The Ring of the Nibelung (a cycle of four related operas by German composer Richard Wagner), the character Wotan, who represents the main Germanic god, sips from a can of Rheingold Beer. It is an homage to Das Rheingold, one of the Ring operas, and a direct reference to the legendary gold in the Rhine River, of which the Ring of the Nibelungs is fashioned.

In print

Rheingold is the beer of choice of Billy Nolan and his friends in Stephen King's novel Carrie.

The title of the novel Ice Cold in Alex (1958) refers to Captain Anson's longing for a Rheingold in Alexandria.

The November, 1954, issue of Mad (#17), has a parody of Miss Rheingold, drawn by Basil Wolverton, wherein the readers are asked to "Choose Miss Potgold of 1955."

The history of the Rheingold Girl contest is recounted in Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed (Harper 2008).

Rheingold is one of the first beers Frank McCourt encounters when he arrives in America in 'Tis, the sequel to Angela's Ashes.

In television

In a 1992 episode of The Golden Girls (season 7, episode 24), Sophia, Blanche, and Dorothy sang the Rheingold Beer theme song lyrics to the tune of Emil Waldteufel's "Estudiantina Valse" (The Students' Waltz), op. 191, No. 4; .[which?] Sophia commented to her daughter, Dorothy, "Your father was always singing that damn jingle."

In the "Hi Def Jam" episode of King of Queens, Doug and his friends are all seen drinking Rheingold while playing poker.

In Life on Mars Gene Hunt is seen drinking a Rheingold beer in a green bottle during one of the episodes.[which?]

In Mad Men season 1, episode 11 ("Indian Summer"), Peggy's date can be seen drinking a Rheingold beer.

In Public Morals season 1, episode 1 several bottles of Rheingold beer can be seen on the table at the bar.


  1. Patricia Winters Lauro (February 12, 2003). "Rheingold Hopes to Rekindle the Romance Between the Beer and New York City". New York Times, reprinted by NYU. Retrieved 2007-01-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Ellen Neuborne (June 1, 2003). "Beauty Is In The Eye of The Beer Holder". Business 2.0. Retrieved 2007-01-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Will Anderson (1998). "Who'll Be New York's Favorite Girl? The Miss Rheingold Contest". Beerhistory.com, excerpt From Beer to Eternity. Retrieved 2007-01-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "The Nat King Cole Show". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. 2005. Retrieved 2007-01-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Carl H. Miller (2002). "Beer Commercials: A Brief History". Beerhistory.com. Retrieved 2007-01-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "For an Old Beer, A New Life". New York Times. March 31, 1998. Retrieved 2007-01-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "My beer is Rheingold-the Dry beer!". Ebony December 1959. Retrieved 2013-04-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Smith, Dennis (2003). Report From Ground Zero. Penguin Group. p. 287. ISBN 0-670-03116-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Carla Spartos (2003). "best of New York 2003". Village Voice. Retrieved 2007-01-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "NYC mayor blasts Rheingold for planned ads". Modern Brewery Age. April 26, 2004. Retrieved 2007-01-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Colin Moynihan (April 19, 2004). "After Brewer Unveils Ads, Mugs Aren't All That's Frosty". New York Times, reprinted by NYU. Retrieved 2007-01-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Drinks Americas to buy Rheingold brand" (Press release). 2005-06-27. Retrieved 2008-07-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Gil Hembree (2002). "Les Paul: Birth of a Guitar Icon (section titled "Commercial Appeal")". Vintage Guitar. Archived from the original on 2006-12-31. Retrieved 2007-01-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "I Want to Be Evil" television performance, retrieved June 21, 2014<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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